Image by Ben Sutherland via Flickr
Generating accountability for leaders can be a challenge. Often we confuse reminders with follow-through. We get so caught up in our own actions that it becomes difficult to see that our team is struggling to generate action amongst themselves. This could be because we believe that once we have reminded someone to do something that their own intrinsic motivation will kick in and take over. This is often not the case though. It is very hard for people to do things that they do not want to do. Look at the obesity epidemic in America. Everyone knows that the secret to slimming down is to eat less and exercise more. How many people follow through on these simple steps? Leaders can start to generate accountability through taking action with their teams. Mark Sanborn
discusses this accountability dilemma further below.
Helping people be accountable is more than identifying what they need to do; it is about clarifying what needs to be accomplished.
Clear outcomes can often be achieved several different ways. We tend to be too rigid about the means and completely miss the end. For instance, in the example above, the objective wasn’t running, it was fitness.
Structure your efforts around the end goal, and involve the person you’re working with in determining the “how.” Giving them an active role in creating the process will engage them and create a greater sense of ownership.
…More at Leadership Accountability: Holding or Helping? | Sanborn and …
Everyone has goals and new years resolutions this time of year. Goals are a healthy and natural way of accomplishing tasks and making meaningful progress in our lives. Goals and resolutions often fail however because we do not associate a goal with a particular benefit. Leaders can help their teams link benefits with their work goals. It is very important for the human mind to have some driving purpose and a goal without a benefit can be a challenging task. For example, lets say you give your team a project to retool the user interface of the dashboard for your member portal and do not give them a reason or benefit to doing so. Without the why behind the project, it is difficult for your team to see the purpose of the project. Telling them that by retooling the UI you can enhance the clicks on extras that will improve the bottom line by 4% and boost the year end bonuses greatly enhances the motivation behind the task. Leaders need to be able to generate accountability which can be a major challenge.
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There are certain traits that high performance teams exhibit and leaders need to recognize and emphasize to improve the success of their teams. Leaders can encourage high performance out of their teams but it is important to know traits that are exhibited by teams to help nudge team members in the right direction. A high performance team is a unit that acts as one entity while performing tasks with ease and a seamless quality. A team that exhibits such behavior can be said to be in “flow” or in the “zone”. This is commonly witnessed in sports where a player can perform incredible feats that have never before been accomplished. Read the ten traits of high performance teams given by the folks at Talent Dynamics.
1. Leadership. Instead of ‘I tell, you do’ the team members participate in the leadership of the team. Each team member reflects the purpose and values of the team. The team members use their skills and experience to solve problems.
2. Decision making. We make decisions in two ways, reason and intuition. Both have strengths and weaknesses. Reason is detailed and slow. Intuition is sketchy and fast. Different circumstances require different decision making processes. High performance teams not only display a balance of both but they also know when each is needed.
3. Communication. Team communication needs to be open and transparent. The goals of the team are regularly reflected upon, progress is fed back and problems addressed quickly. High performance teams recognise that each member communicates differently and use the best communication channel for the information AND the team member.
4. Diversity. High performance teams embrace the diversity and difference in the team’s collective background and experience. This leads to many viewpoints and a greater understanding of problems. High performance teams use this diversity to make better decisions and create solutions faster.
…More at Traits of High Performance Teams | Talent Dynamics
Leaders can use this list to their advantage and start improving their success today. A high performance team is one that “clicks” and can be very difficult to attain. People are inherently different and diversity is a positive advantage when team members understand their role and responsibility but ego and a whole host of other emotions can impede the achievement of developing a “flow”. Leaders need to recognize when a spirit of competition rather than cooperation crops up and take action to alleviate this tension before it affects output. A team cannot achieve high performance without an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Leaders can recognize these ten high performance team traits and emphasize improvement in key areas to increase their own success.
Image by Neal. via Flickr
Accountability in the workplace is an oft overlooked aspect to a company's success. From the outside, a company might appear to be performing very well while internally the culture is a mess. Often companies find themselves in the mindset of 'failure is not an option' which puts employees in a position of not wanting to accept the responsibility of being held accountable. Questions such as “What if….?” and “Will I….?” start to allow doubt to creep into their mind. By allowing an employee to see failure as a viable option, a great leader will free their employees to be more successful. Deborah Mills-Scofield writes about how to bring back accountability:
So, how do we help our cultures, ourselves, our people overcome the fear of failure and commit in a uncertain world? I have a few suggestions based on my experience in both accountable, and unaccountable, company cultures:
Communicate100. Communicate why the request is important to the organization, to both of you, and how it's fulfillment will make a difference. What may seem trivial to us may be profound to someone else. To commit, we need to believe in something bigger than just ourselves or the organization, such as the mission and purpose of the organization. That is how we start changing behavior and making new habits.
Make sure that you're present to support the request and remove or mitigate obstacles. Meet regularly to identify potential challenges and opportunities before they become a major problem.
Re-prioritize responsibilities and tasks to allow the person or team to complete the request. Don't just add on. Not everything is urgent and important. Seriously, show your commitment to the request you've made. If it's not worth re-prioritizing, then it isn't worth asking.
Create ways to eliminate or minimize the stigma of failure. Focus on what's been learned and how that applies, watch how you react to and treat the person, how you discuss it with others affected by the result and how you let it impact that person's future success in the organization. Even if you can't change the organization's performance management process, your own personal demeanor and handling has an enormous impact
….More at Let's Bring Back Accountability – Blogs – Harvard Business Review
Accountability is difficult to achieve because there is no clear path to success but following these guiding principles is a great way to get started on improving company culture. Creating an environment where accountability is valued should be of paramount importance to any leader.